Introduction to iBatis (MyBatis), An alternative to Hibernate and JDBC

I started to write a new article series about iBatis/MyBatis. This is the first article and it will walk you through what is iBatis/MyBatis and why you should use it.

For those who does not know iBatis/MyBatis yet, it is a persistence framework – an alternative to JDBC and Hibernate, available for Java and .NET platforms. I’ve been working with it for almost two year, and I am enjoying it!

The fisrt thin you may notice in this and following articles about iBatis/MyBatis is that I am using iBatis and Mybatis terms. Why? Until June 2010, iBatis was under Apache license and since then, the framework founders decided to move it to Google Code and they renamed it to MyBatis. The framework is still the same though, only has a different name now.

I gathered some resources, so I am just going to quote them:

What is MyBatis/iBatis?

The MyBatis data mapper framework makes it easier to use a relational database with object-oriented applications. MyBatis couples objects with stored procedures or SQL statements using a XML descriptor. Simplicity is the biggest advantage of the MyBatis data mapper over object relational mapping tools.
To use the MyBatis data mapper, you rely on your own objects, XML, and SQL. There is little to learn that you don’t already know. With the MyBatis Data Mapper, you have the full power of both SQL and stored procedures at your fingertips.

iBATIS is based on the idea that there is value in relational databases and SQL, and that it is a good idea to embrace the industrywide investment in SQL. We have experiences whereby the database and even the SQL itself have outlived the application source code, and even multiple versions of the source code. In some cases we have seen that an application was rewritten in a different language, but the SQL and database remained largely unchanged.

It is for such reasons that iBATIS does not attempt to hide SQL or avoid SQL. It is a persistence layer framework that instead embraces SQL by making it easier to work with and easier to integrate into modern object-oriented software. These days, there are rumors that databases and SQL threaten our object models, but that does not have to be the case. iBATIS can help to ensure that it is not.

(iBatis in Action book)


What is iBatis ?

  • A JDBC Framework
  • Developers write SQL, iBATIS executes it using JDBC.
  • No more try/catch/finally/try/catch.
  • An SQL Mapper
  • Automatically maps object properties to prepared statement parameters.
  • Automatically maps result sets to objects.
  • Support for getting rid of N+1 queries.
  • A Transaction Manager
  • iBATIS will provide transaction management for database operations if no other transaction manager is available.
  • iBATIS will use external transaction management (Spring, EJB CMT, etc.) if available.
  • Great integration with Spring, but can also be used without Spring (the Spring folks were early supporters of iBATIS).

What isn’t iBATIS ?

  • An ORM
  • Does not generate SQL
  • Does not have a proprietary query language
  • Does not know about object identity
  • Does not transparently persist objects
  • Does not build an object cache

Essentially, iBatis is a very lightweight persistence solution that gives you most of the semantics of an O/R Mapping toolkit, without all the drama. In other words ,iBATIS strives to ease the development of data-driven applications by abstracting the low-level details involved in database communication (loading a database driver, obtaining and managing connections, managing transaction semantics, etc.), as well as providing higher-level ORM capabilities (automated and configurable mapping of objects to SQL calls, data type conversion management, support for static queries as well as dynamic queries based upon an object’s state, mapping of complex joins to complex object graphs, etc.). iBATIS simply maps JavaBeans to SQL statements using a very simple XML descriptor. Simplicity is the key advantage of iBATIS over other frameworks and object relational mapping tools.( )

Who is using iBatis/MyBatis?

See the list in this link:

I think the biggest case is MySpace, with millions of users. Very nice!

This was just an introduction, so in next articles I will show how to create an application using iBatis/Mybatis – step-by-step.

Enjoy! :)

9 thoughts on “Introduction to iBatis (MyBatis), An alternative to Hibernate and JDBC

  1. Thanks for this introduction. I want to learn more about this framework. I followed your examples from your repository on GitHub and learned the basic stuff. I still try to figure out how to integrate this framework with Spring MVC for ExtJS web application.

  2. Hey Loiane,

    I also like MyBatis, thus I am looking forward to your article series. Hopefully, you will also explain the usage of annotations. Unfortunately the documentation lacks a lot about this topic.

    I already wrote an arcticle: MyBatis (formerly called iBatis) – Examples and Hints using Annotations:

    Best regards,

    Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)

  3. Hi Carlos!

    I’m using MyBatis (iBatis 3.0 +) also with Spring. Currently only iBatis 2.X is supported official and  Spring 3.1 will provide a fully integration.

    In meanwhile you can try this stuff:

    I did not try it out because I could not find any description about how to open a session in batch mode.

    Regards, DaGi.

  4. estou usando ibatis em todos os meus projetos particulares… estou muito mais feliz que com hibernate ou jpa…

    minha vida ficou muito mais fácil!

    e tb tenho usado com spring para controle de transacao, aop e DI… fica muito bom!
    coloco o jersey no topo e programo todo o resto com extjs… fica muito rápido e bom demais de programar!

    parabéns pelo artigo!

    Ari Dias

  5. Hi DaGi.

    Download from mybatis web site. You will find a pdf manual that explains among other things how to use batch SqlSessions.

    In fact both normal SqlSessions and batch SqlSessions work almost in the same way when using them with Spring given that you do not open()/commit()/close() a SqlSession. The difference is that batch sessions will execute all buffered statements batched when the transaction ends.

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